this is part of an ongoing series called 25 in the 2000s. if you want a bit of information about the series, you can find the introduction here.
one of the hallmarks of any time period is a reflection on what occurred in the world of sports. naturally, the 2000s are no different. while it’s still hard to completely put its impact in historical context, the 2000s certainly had many memorable moments and were defined by some of the greatest athletes of all time: lebron james, peyton manning, albert pujols, shaquille o’neal and many more. so, here’s a look at the greatest sports moments of the last decade
25. Sammy Sosa’s corked bat. on the heels of the 90s—a decade defined by a historic home run race between mark mcgwire and sammy sosa—sammy fell apart…and so did his bat. on june 3, 2003, the curtain was pulled back when sammy sosa’s bat shattered and it was revealed that sosa’s home run spree had been helped by a whole lotta cork.
24. Jake Brown’s X-Games Fall. admittedly, i’m not a huge x-games fan, but i just happened to be watching on the night of august 2, 2007 when jake brown fell about 45 feet on a failed trick. instead of me describing it, just watch it.
23. Randy Moss moons the Packers. randy moss scores. randy moss fake moons the packers. what else do you need to know? brilliant. watch it here.
22. Mike Tyson Wants to Eat Lennox Lewis’ Children. how could we forget our friend, iron mike, saying he wanted to lennox lewis’ children? so poetic. prior to their fight in 2002, this is exactly what mike tyson uttered in an interview with jim gray, making it one of the most bizarre sports moments of the decade. watch it here.
21. Michael Phelps Channels Cypress Hill. you’ve won a billion gold medals. you’ve got a zillion dollars worth of endorsements. you’ve got innumerable fans. and then you get your picture taken smoking a bong. good work, mike.
20. Joe Namath Hearts Suzy Kolber. awkward. painful. uncomfortable. awesome. i mean, what more could we have been feeling as we watched this.
19. Chad Johnson becomes Ochocinco. in honor of hispanic heritage month, the cincinnati bengals’ all-pro receiver, chad johnson, declared that he would no longer answer questions when referred to as chad. in october 2006, ochocinco was born. see it here.
18. Barry Bonds Break the Home Run Record. aargh. that’s pretty much what i think about this. but, you can’t deny that this is one of the biggest sports stories of not just the last decade, but in baseball history. so, there you go.
17. Usain Bolt is Fast. we’ve seen some fast people. we’ve seen some amazing feats at the olympics. but at the 2008 beijing olympics, jamaica’s usain bolt did things that were superior to any human race we’ve ever seen. in the 100m, he pulled up early in celebration and still put up a 9.69, a number most thought was unimaginable.
16. The Evil Empire Falls to the Diamond Backs. just after 9/11, the yankees made it back to the world series against the upstart arizona diamond backs. favored heavily, the yankees fell in one of the most exciting world series ever. led by curt schilling and randy johnson, the diamond backs’ victory led to a book by buster olney called the last night of the yankee dynasty.
15. Tiger Woods. Period. there’s not much more to say about tiger woods. more than a sports moment, it’s impossible to talk about the decade in sports without talking about the incredible 10-year (and counting) run he’s had. certainly now, he’s in the press for all the wrong reasons, but it doesn’t take away from his more-than-human accomplishments on the golf course.
14. Lions go 0-16. no nfl team has ever lost 16 games. and then someone did. the 2008 lions managed to reel off 16 straight losses, setting the standard for badness. ironically, the lions went undefeated in the preseason (good trivia fact), but managed to reverse their fortunes throughout the season.
13. Lebron James. Period. in 2003, the cleveland cavaliers became the luckiest team on planet earth, winning the rights to draft lebron james #1 in the nba draft. from that time on, lebron has been a basketball and cultural phenomenon. he’s the best player in the nfl. he’s talked about playing in the nfl. he makes a zillion dollars a year from endorsements. he’s actually likable. and he’s just getting started. as a huge michael jordan fan, i can safely say that this guy is as close to michael jordan that we’ll probably see for a very long time.
12. Redeem Team. in the early 90s, the dream teams dominated the world in basketball. their was no conversation about who was the greatest hardcourt power in the world. and then we lost. and we lost. and then we lost some more. in 2008, though, the so-called redeem team—led by lebron james, kobe bryant and dwayne wade—was formed and we regained world domination.
11. Celtics Turnaround. in the 2006-07 season, the boston celtics won 24 games and were one of the most dysfunctional teams in the nba. then came kevin garnett and ray allen. and things. in the span of 1 year, they went from worst to first. the celtics ended up beating the lakers in the finals and capped one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports history.
10. Lance Armstrong. well, how about we start with 7 tour de france victories and then we’ll end by re-iterating the fact that he won 7 tour de frances. how’s that? enough said?
09. Mark McGwire isn’t here to talk about the past. yeah, he told us that over and over and over in 2005’s congressional testimonies concerning his steroid use. mcgwire had one of the greatest sports stories of all time in the home run race of 1998 and now, due to his less-than-honest revelations since that time, he has been consistently the subject of shame and mistrust throughout the 2000s.
08. Michael Phelps wins and wins and wins x 8. the aforementioned usain bolt was a huge story from the 2008 olympics, but not even his speed could match the unbelievable run by michael phelps. honestly, i got amazingly tired of hearing about michael phelps, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that 8 gold medals is an incredible feat that won’t be soon forgotten.
07. Dream Team Loses. well, we’ve talked about the redeem team, so you know the happy ending. but, here’s the incredible part of the story: we lost. in 2004, the “dream team”, coached by larry brown and featuring stars such as lebron james, allen iverson and tim duncan, walked away from the athens olympics with a bronze. remember that team in 1992 who beat people by 70? yeah, this team got beat by puerto rico by 19. enough said.
06. Ron Artest Wiles Out. in november of 2004, one of the ugliest scenes in nba history occurred when a fight broke out between the pacers and pistons and eventually spilled over into the stands. after being hit in the face by an object thrown by a fan, ron artest decided to take justice into his own hands and this happened.
05. Allen Iverson talks Practice. bar none, this is my favorite sports quote moment of all time. when allen iverson was pressed about missing some practice, he lets the media know what he thinks about practice. please just watch this.
04. Boise State Beats Oklahoma. the 2007 fiesta bowl was one of the most exciting college football games that many people have ever seen. it’s hard to describe everything involved with this game, but in summary, the game was highlighted by an 18-point comeback by oklahoma in the second half, a combined 22 points scored in the final 1:26 of regulation, and three trick plays that helped Boise State win the game. if you want to read about all the insane events, you can do that here.
03. Giants Beat the Patriots. in the early 2000s, the patriots were easy to love. they had spent years as doormats of the nfl and we all wanted them to win. by the mid-2000s, though, they had become the evil empire. so after becoming the first undefeated team since the 70s, it was so, so good to see them get beat from start to finish by the giants in the super bowl that year.
02. Texas Beats USC. despite the outcome that i so desperately did not want, the 2006 rose bowl very well may be the greatest college football game i’ve ever seen. the game was characterized by stars such as reggie bush, matt leinart and vince young and it lived up the hype of those superstars. the play of the game, of course, was vince young’s game-winning 4th down touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining in the game. it was usc’s only rose bowl loss since 1989.
01. Red Sox Break the Curse. in 1919, the boston red sox won a world championship. and then nothing. until 2004. and the curse was over. sadly for cardinals fans, the series was absolutely no contest, with the red sox sweeping the series. it seemed to be destiny. in reality, the series was a sleeper compared to the american league championship series where the sox came back from being down 3-0 against arch rival new york yankees. still, the red sox finally winning is the most enduring sports image of this decade.
so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some big stories. what are they? i’ve, no doubt, ranked some things too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.
see you in a few days with my next list: tv shows.